Mthembu, Herron claim Comrades titles

Bongumusa Mthembu Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Home runner Bongumusa Mthembu claimed his second winners' medal in South Africa's Comrades Marathon, beating Zimbabwean Hatiwande Nyamande into second by more than three minutes in the gruelling 89-kilometre race on Sunday.

Mthembu followed his maiden triumph in 2014 with victory in 5:35.34, having finished third last year, but was some way off the record for the 'up' run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg of 5:24.49 that was set by Russian Leonid Shvetsov in 2008.

Mthembu held off the challenge of Nyamande (5:38.48) and compatriot Gift Kelehe (5:41.48) in third. The latter claimed the winners' medal on the last 'up' run in 2015.

Mthembu is the second South African to win the race twice since the legendary Bruce Fordyce in 1990, who claimed a record nine Comrades Marathon wins in an illustrious career.

Thobani Cagwe had set the early pace in a fast start, before he was overtaken by Maxed Elite teammate Charles Tijane.

However, the steady pace of Mthembu saw him take over the lead after the halfway mark and ease to his second victory in South Africa's most prestigious ultra marathon.

American runner Camille Herron completed her dream of claiming a Comrades win when she crossed the finish line in 6:27.35 to claim the women's race.

Alexandra Morozova (6:31.45) from Russia finished in second, with last year's champion, South African Charne Bosman (6:39.51), in third.

Herron was the world 50-kilometre and 100-kilometre champion in 2015, but says winning the Comrades has been a dream since she first started reading about the race in 1995.

"It's the pinnacle of ultras. I've already got two world titles and to win here would be huge to my career," she said prior to the race.

It makes up for past disappointments after she had to pull out of the marathon with six kilometres to go in 2014 due to illness, and then last year withdrew a month prior to the event with a torn hamstring.